Clean up begins after vandalism at Carpenter Hill

Few answers into the investigation of vandalism at Carpenter Hill Elementary could be found Friday afternoon as clean-up crews tried to bring normalcy back to the campus.

Despite their best efforts, a scene of carnage and mayhem wasn’t hard to miss. Computers and copiers in areas near the main entrance, and in the library, still showed signs of irreparable damage. Books were strewn on the floor in an attempt to preserve them from the residue of an expended fire extinguisher.

Perhaps the most indicative scene of innocence lost was a damaged carousel colt; a historic piece of art that had once stood prominently in the library and was now shattered in pieces.

Pictured clockwise, several urinals (top left) show signs of damage in a boys bathroom on the first floor of Carpenter Hill Elementary. A carousel colt art piece is shattered on the floor of the Carpenter Hill library. Several computers in the Carpenter Hill library were damaged during a vandalism incident. The screen of a copier is damaged where it was struck. (Photos by Moses Leos III)

All of it, the broken computers, urinals, panes of glass, led to what some believe is a question worth anywhere between $10,000 to $100,000 or more – “Why?”

Tim Savoy, Hays CISD public information officer, said the scene of vandalism at Carpenter Hill “makes you incredibly angry.” The timing of the vandalism comes as teachers and students are preparing to return back to class for the 2018 school year.

“You come in here and see the damage, you ask, ‘Why would anyone do this? What would motivate someone to do this?'” Savoy said. “There is momentum that builds in August for the whole back-to-school mindset. To have something like this happen, it derails a piece of that.”

Savoy said nearly everything damaged in the vandalism incident will be covered by insurance. The district continues to assess damage and a final cost estimate. Damage is expected to be cleaned up before teachers return to campus later this month, Savoy said.

But the incident was “violating” for district officials and parents alike, Savoy said.

“If you’re a teacher, or a parent who has a student here, it’s a violation. This is a safe space. This is where kids can have fun, learn and be creative,” Savoy said. “This is unnecessary and uncalled for.”

The incident will lead Hays CISD officials to take a harder look at security and what more could be done. Cameras installed in Carpenter Hill were working and captured a images of the suspect and the vehicle he was operating during the incident.

While the district has dealt with vandalism cases on district property in the past, Savoy said “it’s been a while” since the district experienced the scale of Friday’s incident

Savoy said the district plans to find out what happened and solve any unanswered questions.

“When we find out what happened, we will go step-by-step and look along the way on what we could do to improve safety and security,” Savoy said.

The Hays County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the incident. Anyone who has information on this case should call the HCSO at 512.393.7875.

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